EFCA Update

From TruthDig: “Sen. Arlen Specter gave the Employee Free Choice Act the shaft Tuesday, mortally wounding legislation that would make forming unions significantly easier. Labor leaders were depending on support from moderates such as Specter, but, facing a primary challenge, the Pennsylvania Republican chickened out.  The senator blamed the recession for his decision…. Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) said [Tuesday] that he would oppose legislation making it easier for workers to form unions, dealing a severe blow to organized labor’s top political priority as he faces a 2010 primary challenge from the right.

Union leaders were counting on Specter to be the 60th vote needed to stop an expected GOP filibuster of the Employee Free Choice Act later this year. He was the lone Senate Republican to support consideration of the measure in 2007, when it stalled in the Senate.

“It is a very emotional issue, with labor looking to this legislation to reverse the steep decline in union membership, and business expressing great concern about added costs which would drive more companies out of business or overseas,” Specter said in a Senate floor speech … .”

I hope labor leaders have something other than Specter to base their success upon, and that the term ‘mortally wounded’ was premature.

see: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/20090325_union_bill_in_trouble/

Reviving the Middle Class

The biggest victim of the wealth redistribution that has been occurring since 1980 is the middle class.

Robert Borosage in HuffPost: ”

We can’t go back to the old economy. That economy — marked by booms and busts, Gilded Age inequality, declining wages, growing household debts, and unsustainable trade deficits — didn’t work very well for most Americans. President Obama is faced with the difficult task of creating the structure for the new economy even as he works to lift us out of the collapse of the old.

That’s why his stunning budget calls for health care reform, ending our addiction to oil and investing in education as both a way out of the mess and a down payment on the future. His pace is as unrelenting as the crisis. Next up: reviving America’s middle class, insuring that once growth returns, its blessings are widely shared. And the centerpiece of that is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

EFCA helps revive the right of workers to organize in this country. Over the last decades, that basic right has been shredded, as companies waged open warfare on union organizing, and administrations often failed to enforce the laws protecting that right. The tactics were bare knuckle: fire the organizers; hold closed door meetings to threaten the workers. And if workers did vote for a union, one-third of employers simply refused to negotiate a contract with them.

The campaigns have been brutally successful. Today, over a majority of workers say that they would join a union if given a choice, but only about 7.5% of the private workforce is organized.”

The median income of Americans homes – in current dollars – is less than it was 3o years ago.  In his widely read work: “The Affluent Society”, economist John Kenneth Galbraith gives credit to strong unions for negotiating wages which built the middle class.  (That was published in 1958 – in case one has a disconnect with the title and the current state of our bushconomy…)

see; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-l-borosage/obamas-next-gauntlet-revi_b_171610.html